'Ambedkar collaborated with the British to undermine Gandhiji'
All the facts which have been recounted above were well known
fifty years ago. With the passing of the generation that fought
for Independence, with the total abandonment of looking up the
record, most of all with the rise of casteist politics, they have
been erased from public awareness. And that erasure has led to
the predictable result: schizophrenia.
To start with, those trading in Ambedkar's name and their apologists
have sought to downplay the struggle for Independence: the freedom
it brought is not "real", they insist. Exactly as that
other group did which teamed up with the British at that crucial
hour, 1942 -- the Communists. Indeed, as we shall see in the concluding
part of the book, to justify Ambedkar's conduct his followers
insist that British Rule was better.
Next, they have sought to exaggerate the hardship that Ambedkar
had to put up with, to almost rub out the fact, for instance,
that at every step -- for instance in his education -- he received
fulsome help from persons belonging to the higher castes; by exaggerating
the hardships the apologists seek to explain away Ambedkar's collaborating
with the British, his hankering for office: these hardships were
the sort that are commonplace in India -- one has only to recall
the circumstances in which Swami Vivekananda matured, one has
only to recall the starvation which stared him in the face, the
calumny and humiliations he had to fight back; but in the case
of one and each of our leaders the hardships became the crucible
which steeled their resolve to rid our country of British rule;
it is only in Ambedkar's case that his followers and apologists
think that those hardships justify his collaborating with the
British against the national movement.
And, of course, these persons have made a practice of denouncing
and calumnising Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhiji was the great leader,
even more so he was the great symbol of that struggle for Freedom;
as Ambedkar collaborated with the British to undermine him, as
for 25 years he heaped on the Mahatma calumnies which the British
found so valuable, his apologists abuse and denigrate and belittle
the Mahatma. In doing this they work out their own poisons --
poisons which, as we shall see, are the inescapable legacy of
leaders who have not cast out the thorn of hatred before they
come to wield influence.
Today the abuse he hurled at Gandhiji
provides the precedent: the apologist's case, as Kanshi Ram said
recently while explaining the venom his associate Mayawati had
spewed at the Mahatma, is, "We are followers of Babasaheb,
we only keep repeating what he used to say." They are at
the same time serving their convenience: they have made Ambedkar's
style, so to say, as also the facility with which he allied with
those who were out to keep the country subjugated, the rationalisation
for their own politics.
But the facts lurk in the closet. Lest they spill out and tarnish
the icon they need for their politics, lest their politics be
shown up for what it is -- a trade in the name of the dispossessed -- these
followers of Ambedkar enforce their brand of history through verbal
terrorism, and actual assault.
And intimidation works. Editors and others conclude, "Better
leave bad enough alone."
Excerpted from Worshipping False Gods by Arun Shourie, ASA Publishers, 1997, Rs 450, with the author's permission. Those interested in obtaining a copy of the book can contact the distributor at Bilblia Impex Pvt Ltd, 2/18, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110001or firstname.lastname@example.org